Whole grains and whole grain products
Eating whole grains that are cooked but otherwise unprocessed is the ideal way to get the most from grains. Grains commonly eaten in their whole form include brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, corn, barley (non-pearled), and oats (as groats or steel cut). Even wheat is sometimes eaten whole, as wheat berries or bulgur wheat.
The next-best way to get your whole grains is from products made with them. Examples of whole grain products include breads, crackers, pastas, and cereals made from milled (into flour), rolled, puffed, or flaked whole grains. In one study, researchers found that the best of these products have a 10:1 or lower ratio of digestible carbohydrate to fiber. Look for products made with 100% whole grains, and remember that any kind of processing tends to raise a food's potential to increase blood sugar levels (its glycemic load).
Whole and wholesome
Whole grains offer more than carbohydrates: They are also a source of dietary fiber, and have micronutrients like B vitamins and vitamin E. A standard serving of amaranth, oats, or quinoa provides half or more of the iron you need each day, while whole grains in general are good sources of magnesium, with buckwheat and quinoa standing out as excellent sources. Phenolic compounds like ferulic acid, and an array of other phytochemicals such as zeaxanthin and lutein, are common components of whole grains that add to their antioxidant effects. Fibers found in whole grains may contribute to improved blood sugar control, encourage the expansion of colonies of beneficial gut bacteria, and help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.
People who eat more whole grains may have lower risks of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Eating whole grains has also been associated with a lower risk of death from any cause and, specifically, death related to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Of course, to derive the most benefit, whole grains should be part of an overall, healthy eating pattern.
Half or more as whole grain
It is generally recommended that people consume at least half of their grains as whole grains, and, according to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes may especially benefit from adhering to this guideline, since processed grains do not protect against chronic disease and may disrupt blood sugar control. Speak with your healthcare practitioner about how many carbohydrate servings you should be getting each day, and then try replacing processed grain foods-especially those with added sugars, fats, and sodium-with whole grains and whole grain products to help improve your nutritional status and your long-term health.
(Diabetes Care 2013:36:3821-42)